NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Is David Fizdale playing head games with Enes Kanter, or is something else going on?
Unhappy over experiencing the first DNP of his NBA career during the Knicks’ wild 114-110 loss to visiting Houston on Wednesday night, the veteran big man let loose during a postgame interview with reporters. Kanter said he’s getting mixed messages from Fizdale and he doesn’t like it, even going so far as to say that maybe it’s time for him to move on.
“They told me this morning that I’m starting,” Kanter said. “Now I come to the game and I didn’t even play. I’m trying to be a good teammate, but I want to play basketball. If you’re going to play me here, play me. If not, just get me out of here.”
Kanter has been consistently productive during his year-plus run with the Knicks. The 6-foot-11, 250-pounder averaged 14.1 points and 11 rebounds in 72 games last season and through 42 games this season has posted 14.4 and 10.8, respectively.
He has also been a lightning rod of controversy due to his ongoing beef with his native Turkey’s government. More than a year ago reports out of Ankara, the country’s capital, said the government was seeking a four-year prison sentence for Kanter, accusing him of criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Twitter. The feud has continued ever since, with Kanter skipping the Knicks’ trip to London last week over fears of being killed over his opposition to Erdogan.
And last week, a report surfaced saying Turkey was seeking an international arrest warrant for Kanter, accusing him of being a member of a terrorist organization. The government cited his ties to exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed for a failed coup in 2016, and accusing him of providing financial support to Gulen’s group.
Kanter denounced the reports on Twitter, saying “The only thing I terrorize is the rim.”
It remains to be seen what his future will hold with the Knicks, who, at 10-36, have the second-worst record in the league. Kanter will be a free agent this offseason.
“What they’re doing is pretty messed up. I deserve way better,” Kanter said of the coaching staff. “They didn’t explain me anything. I’m just going to let my agent handle it. I love the Knicks, don’t get me wrong. I love the crowd and MSG and have love for this city, but I want to play basketball. Either play me or just let me play someplace.”